Physically and Chemically Cross-Linked Poly(vinyl alcohol)/Humic Acid Hydrogels for Agricultural Applications

Ana V. Torres-Figueroa*, Sergio de los Santos-Villalobos, Dora E. Rodríguez-Félix, Sergio F. Moreno-Salazar, Cinthia J. Pérez-Martínez, Lerma H. Chan-Chan, Andrés Ochoa-Meza*, Teresa del Castillo-Castro*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The preparation method of hydrogels has a significant effect on their structural and physicochemical properties. In this report, physically and chemically cross-linked poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) networks containing humic acid (HA) were alternatively prepared by autoclaving (AC) and through glutaraldehyde (GA) addition, respectively, for agricultural purposes. PVA/HA hydrogels were comparatively characterized by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis, mechanical assays, scanning electron microscopy, swelling kinetics measurements, and water retention tests in soil. AC hydrogels showed a more homogeneous porous microstructure, higher swelling levels, and a better capacity to preserve the humidity of soil than those obtained by adding GA. Both PVA/HA hydrogels exhibited no phytotoxicity on cultivation trials of Sorghum sp., but the plant growth was promoted with the GA-cross-linked network as compared to the effect of the AC sample. The release behavior of urea was modified according to the preparation method of the PVA/HA hydrogels. After 3 days of sustained urea release, 91% of the fertilizer was delivered from the AC hydrogel, whereas a lower amount of 56% was released for the GA-cross-linked hydrogel. Beyond the advantages of applying PVA/HA hydrogels in the agricultural field, an appropriate method of preparing these materials endows them with specific properties according to the requirements of the target crop.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44784-44795
Number of pages12
JournalACS Omega
Issue number47
StatePublished - 28 Nov 2023

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© 2023 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society


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